The up and downside of making AI and bots ‘more human’

May 24, 2016 / by / 0 Comment
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Recent advancements in technology hint a future no longer just dominated by smartphones and ultra-fast Internet as tech companies envision a world powered by artificial intelligence and bots. For Microsoft, building a future where robots are humans’ worthy daily companion is on top if its priority.

“We want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences. Ultimately, it’s not going to be about man versus machines. It is going to be about man with machines,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, as reported by NBC News. The giant tech firm is now perfecting its Cortana, its virtual assistant (VA).

Soon, the enhanced algorithm behind the VA will grace Outlook and Calendar to aid consumers in organizing their schedule and enhancing daily office tasks. This will also be integrated with Xbox and Skype, making VA-powered video messages accessible to more Microsoft users. These would-be improvements will be just a beginning of more updates, and what Microsoft wants is to make the algorithm behind bots more human.

“All technology that we build has to be more inclusive and respectful. We need to build technology such that it gets the best of humanity, not the worst,” said Nadella. “Think about the way we use technology, and how that helps us make progress as a society.”

IBM shares the same opinion. Watson, its robot, will undergo several enhancements in the future to make it more human. Rob High, chief technology officer at IBM’s Watson Solutions, said that its main priority is to make it highly capable of detecting emotions in human communications. This is also IBM’s way of shunning fear concerning robots overtaking human intelligence or even making humans overly subservient to their probable indispensable presence.

“Computers will communicate with us on our terms. They will adapt to our needs, rather than us having to interpret and adapt to them,” High told Silicon Angle.” It’s about changing the roles between humans and computers. We as humans have had to adapt to the computer. There’s only so much you can achieve with that two-dimensional experience.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said the only way humans can avoid the possibility of AI becoming “gods” is for tech investors to allow gadgets to communicate like humans. “They’re going to be smarter than us and if they’re smarter than us then they’ll realize they need us,” he explained. “[But through Internet of Things, it could be avoided.” He suggested that inventors and manufacturers behind smartphones, apps, appliances, and cars should continue to innovate without stripping them off with human-like functions.

In the app department, there are the likes of business app Born2Invest that continue to tap writers’ and journalists’ services for their summaries despite the abundance of algorithm and technologies for such. The apps’ success has helped consumers realize the importance of human curators in an app that focuses on information. “In this way, we send a clear message that humans are still better than robots, and our capabilities cannot be replaced by those of machines, which we made,” explained CEO Dom Einhorn.

Indeed, there are more improvements to be done. The case of Tay, Microsoft’s AI who obtained criticisms on the Web for its racist Twitter responses, shows that the technology is far from perfection. However, this also gives us an image of how a poorly programmed AI—or any super intelligent machines—could shake humanity in an instant.

“The fact that Tay spiraled out of control speaks to a deep-seated anxiety we’ve always had about our creations getting the better of us. And it’s a completely natural feeling,” wrote Brian Fung on The Washington Post.

One thing is difficult to deny: the big firms that gave us smartphones and apps we now wholeheartedly embrace are also the ones dreaming of AI’s and bots’ ubiquity. Like internet and apps, these technologies will surely have pros and cons, too, and recent news on their developments have been gracious in providing us with a pinch of these, giving us the liberty to decide if they’re beneficial for us, for the future generation, or not.



I am a business journalist and culture writer focused on covering the following sectors and interests: financial stocks, biotechnology, healthcare, mining, IT and design, social media, pop culture, food and wine, TV, film and music. I sometimes write for and Thought Catalog.